Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

The Journey, Part II - The White House Years

The White House South Portico

Visitors proceed on to Journey II with Lincoln’s arrival in Washington, D.C. as the President of the United States. Passing through the White House South Portico, they continue through his tumultuous and historical presidency and on to the tragedy of his assassination and the funeral train, the longest and most elaborate funeral in American history, that brought his body back home to Springfield.

Highlights include:

The White House South Portico

The Lincoln family is posed in front of the White House as it appeared in 1861. Generals McClellan and Grant stand on one side of the portico veranda, eyeing each other with suspicion. On the other side, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth wait for the opportunity to speak with the president. And, around to one side, John Wilkes Booth keeps watch on Lincoln’s back.

What Are They Wearing in Washington?

In the White House “Blue Room,” Mary Lincoln is being fitted for a ball gown by her dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley. Around the room are exact reproductions of the ball gowns of Mary’s social rivals, who all seem to be younger, thinner, richer and more popular than Mary. Each of these women has something nasty and cruel to say about Mary. More...

What Are They Wearing in Washington?

The Whispering Gallery

This is a twisted, nightmarish hallway where voices are heard whispering vicious rumors and brutally unkind things about Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. On the walls are cruel caricatures and mean political cartoons of the time that attack the Lincolns. More...

The Whispering Gallery

The Death of Willie

Visitors can stand with Abraham and Mary in their son’s, Willie’s, bedroom in the White House. The parents, in formal party clothes, are by his bedside. Sounds of a large party can be heard coming from another part of the building. This is the night of February 5, 1862 during a lavish White House party. Earlier, doctors had told the Lincolns that Willie was recovering, so they went ahead with the gala. Now, during the party, he has taken a turn for the worse. He will die in two weeks.

The Death of Willie Lincoln

The Emancipation Proclamation

Visitors are in a special effects “illusion corridor” with a gauntlet of dream-like images of people yelling, as if each of the visitors were Lincoln, telling them what should be done about the emancipation controversy. The mix of very different, sometimes racist opinions is a reminder that, even in the North, Lincoln was leading a deeply divided, mostly racist nation. More...

The Emancipation Proclamation
Ford's Theatre

This is a recreation of the presidential box in Ford’s Theatre. Sculptors were used to accurately create all the architectural relief and details as near to accurate to the time as possible.

Mary and Abraham Lincoln are seated, holding hands, and watching the action on the stage below. Lincoln appears much older and frailer, but there is a hint of a smile on his face. (This is the second time in the entire museum that you see him smile. The only other time was back in New Salem, when he was standing next to Ann Rutledge.)

John Wilkes Booth is just entering the presidential box. His hand is suspiciously reaching under his jacket.

On the opposite wall to the presidential box, visitors can read Lincoln’s last romantic words exchanged with his wife, spoken moments before he was shot.

Mary held his hand, and at a few minutes before ten hugged him and asked, "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?" Lincoln turned to her with a tender reply, "She won't think anything about it."

Those were the last words Mary would hear from her husband. Moments later, at approximately 10:15 p.m, John Wilkes Booth gained entrance to the presidential box, and placing a derringer pistol behind the president's left ear, shot him at point-blank range. Lincoln slumped forward, mortally wounded, while Booth leapt to the stage and made his escape. Mary's screams echoed through the stunned theatre.

Ford's Theatre

Lying in State

An immersive exhibit, this is a full scale recreation of the Representatives Hall in Springfield’s Old State Capitol. Based on period photographs, historical etchings, and a reporter’s first-hand descriptions, sculptors and artists have set this Hall back in time to the exact moment when Lincoln lay in state, complete with all the lavish, elaborate, and, by today’s standards, sometimes eccentric decorations. Having walked through Lincoln’s life, visitors will now file past his closed casket as though they too are paying their last respects.


  1. The Journey, Part I – The Pre-Presidential Years
  2. The Journey, Part II – The White House
  3. Ghosts of the Library - Holavision® Theater
  4. The Union Theater

Other Experiences:

  1. Treasures Gallery
  2. Ask Mr. Lincoln
  3. Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic
  4. Illinois Gallery
  5. The Gateway
  6. Restaurant
  7. Gift Shop

Page last updated: July 7, 2009